Chicago Mayor Frustrated as Texas Buses More Illegal Immigrants to City

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
September 5, 2022 Updated: September 6, 2022

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot voiced her frustration on Sept. 4 that Texas has begun busing illegal immigrants to her city.

Fifty immigrants, mostly part of families, arrived by bus in Chicago on Sept. 4 from Texas. More than 95 immigrants had arrived in the city on buses days earlier.

Lightfoot, a Democrat, said that officials are working with nonprofits to “provide a real welcome” to the immigrants but is frustrated by what she described as a lack of coordination. She claimed that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, is “manufacturing a human crisis.”

“My frustration comes from the actions of the governor of Texas,” she said at a briefing. “There could be a level of coordination and cooperation, but he chooses to do none of those things, and instead tries to send human beings—not cargo, not freight—but human beings across the country to an uncertain destination.

“We have yet to hear from anybody in an official capacity from Texas. That’s unacceptable.”

Texas officials began transporting illegal aliens to Washington in April, and have since expanded the operation to New York City and Chicago; the state says it isn’t forcing anyone onto the buses, but rather offering the ride to people who volunteer to be transported.

Abbott has said that the operation is aimed at applying pressure on the federal government, which has loosened or completely reversed key Trump-era immigration policies.

“We’ll continue busing migrants to sanctuary cities like NYC, DC, & now Chicago until the federal gov’t does its job & secures the border,” Abbott said in a statement on social media as the first buses reached Chicago.

Sanctuary Policies

Chicago, New York City, and Washington all have so-called sanctuary policies or statutes that forbid or limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities with regard to illegal immigrants.

Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance (pdf) says that no agency or official can arrest, detain, or continue to detain a person solely on the belief that the person is in the United States illegally, and restricts cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“I have been very unequivocal in my time as mayor to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to provide a safe, welcoming space here in Chicago,” Lightfoot said. “This is a time for us to live our values. And that’s precisely what we’re doing.”

More than 9,500 immigrants have been bused to the cities since April, according to Abbott’s office, which has declined to give many details on the operation, such as how much it has cost to date. The immigrants are released by federal authorities after being processed. At least some have applied for asylum. The immigrants have overwhelmed Washington and New York, prompting officials to ask for federal help and implement emergency procedures.

Chicago is also asking President Joe Biden’s administration for assistance, Lightfoot said.

“We’re asking for any assistance that we can get from the federal government,” she said. “The state has stepped in; the county has been an awesome partner. So we’re asking all people goodwill to step up and help support us.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.